Somewhere along the way, no doubt trying to be ‘up to date’ with their methods, British employers all began to change the name of their Personnel departments to ‘Human Resources’. The change in name feels like an Orwellian use of language. It is pregnant with messages to the employees.
The message is before we were all people working together on an enterprise, now only the owners and senior managers are people, you all are just disposable bits of equipment, like an office chair or a desk, we hire you, fire you, you’re all replaceable and have no intrinsic value of your own. You are less than human.
Humiliating staff, trying to degrade them to continuously varying quantities of labour which are all interchangeable. We don’t want you, we just want your units of labour. Measured as a real number at that!
It is another way in which the culture surrounding modern capitalism seeks to make people unhappy and dissatisfied, offering the false road to happiness. The only way you can live without being kicked around like a dog is to get your hands on more wealth than most people by any means necessary, not necessarily legally either, so you can kick everyone else around. It is a programme for a violent, unstable and anti-social society. The majority must always suffer so a tiny minority can swagger around vacuously.
The naïve and stupid idea that all people doing the same job do it in the same way, so they are all interchangeable, and there are no qualitative differences seems to have taken over management thinking. Expert advice on the leadership of people now comes from those who are practically autistic, or at least anti-social.
The way someone does a job is very much a reflection of their own character, and their personal values. Unfortunately the Anglo-American culture is not one in which people take pride in, or get status and recognition for how well they do their job. This differs from cultures like Japan and Korea. So the Anglo-American culture seeks to bribe its staff with offers of more money if they are obedient, but the staff just see the chance to rob their employers as a way to scratch back some human dignity. Take but don’t give back. It’s a ‘them and us’ culture and attitudes such as viewing staff as ‘Human Resources’ simply reinforce this set of values. Lack of values is a better description. The end result is to create a hostile demoralised workforce which feels it has no stake in the organisation except to rob it of whatever they can get away with.
If you don’t invest in your staff, as people, not just with money and training, then they won’t invest in your goals for the organisation. The message is it’s all clearly NOT for their benefit so why should they care, we all just become flotsam in a flexible labour market where we move jobs as quickly as possible because we hate the organisation that employs us.
Capitalism as ever destroys itself if left to its own devices. It’s not left wing people the capitalists have to fear, we will seek to do many things that rescue the system from itself, rather it’s the freedom to abuse power and for those with power to immerse themselves in unbridled greed that destroys capitalism.
Uncontrolled capitalism eats itself through sheer greed.